Bosses take a lot of heat for how things are going within the company, and their mood will have a huge impact on everyone else.
Whether you want your boss to struggle because you don’t like them, or you’re concerned about their wellbeing – there are key signs to look out for.
Here are 15 signs your boss is in trouble in some way, and indicate that things aren’t going well for them:
15 Signs Your Boss Is in Trouble
1. They’re Working Lots of Overtime
If your boss is putting in extra hours, it could be a sign that they’re struggling to keep up with the workload or they’re trying to prove something to their bosses.
This could be due to them taking on too much, because they’re trying to cover for someone else, or because things simply aren’t going well for the company.
Either way, it’s not sustainable and will eventually lead to burnout.
2. They Are Spending a Lot of Time Alone in Their Office
Another sign that your boss is struggling is if they’re spending more time alone in their office.
This could be because they’re trying to avoid people, because they’re worried about what others might think, or because they’re dealing with a lot of stress.
Whatever the reason, it’s not healthy and will eventually take a toll on their mental and physical wellbeing
3. They Aren’t Making Small Talk
If your boss used to get involved in small talk and have a little fun with you and your coworkers but is no longer doing so, it’s a red flag.
It’s easy to feel like you’ve done something wrong, but it’s more likely a sign that they’re dealing with a lot of stress themselves.
You could try and say or do something to make them smile, but it’s probably best that you give them space.
4. They Are Visibly Stressed
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but if your boss looks stressed then they probably are!
They might have a lot on their plate on a day-to-day basis, or they might be worried about something specific.
Whatever the reason, it’s not healthy for them to be so stressed and it will eventually catch up with them if they don’t do something about it.
5. They’re Getting Frequent Visits from Their Superiors
If your boss is getting frequent visits from their superiors, it’s a sign that something is up.
It could be that they’re in trouble and are being monitored, or that something major is happening within the company.
Either way, it’s not a good sign and you should be prepared for some changes, especially if you’re spotting some of the other signs on this list.
6. They’re Always Complaining About How Things Are Going
If your boss is always complaining about how things are going, it’s a sign that they’re not happy with the current situation.
This could be because they’re under a lot of pressure, because they’re not being given the resources they need, or because they’re simply not happy with their job.
Whatever the reason, it’s a sign that cracks are showing and their negative attitude isn’t going to help.
7. You Don’t See Them Smiling or Laughing Anymore
If your boss used to be a happy and smiling person but you no longer see that side of them, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that something is wrong.
Maybe this has been a gradual change, or it was more like something that happened overnight.
However their decline in happiness has happened, something is troubling them.
8. You’re Missing Goals As A Team
If you’re missing goals as a team, this can reflect badly on your boss and get them in some trouble.
A boss is ultimately responsible for how their team is performing, and while they can blame individuals, it’s their head that will roll if their team consistently underperforms.
9. They Have Been Given Reduced Responsibilities
If your boss has been given reduced responsibilities, it’s a sign that their superiors have lost faith in them.
This could be because they’re not meeting targets, because they’re not doing their job to the best of their abilities, or any number of other reasons.
It’s a sure sign that they’re in a lot of trouble and don’t look good for their future within the company.
10. They Are Going Through Some Personal Issues
If your boss is going through some personal issues, it’s likely that they’re struggling to cope both at work and at home.
This can lead to them making mistakes at work, being irritable with their employees, or simply not being able to focus on their job.
If you think they’re facing personal struggles, it’s best not to get involved unless you know them well enough to ask if there’s anything you can do to help.
11. They Seem to Not Care as Much as They Used To
If your boss seems to not care as much as they used to, it’s a sign that something has changed – and not for the better.
It could be that they’re feeling overwhelmed and hopeless, or that they’re simply resigning themselves to the fact that things aren’t going to get better.
We can only hope that they’re not in too much trouble, but not caring is only going to make things worse.
12. They Start Telling You the Company Is Not Great to Work For
If your boss starts telling you that the company is not great to work for, it’s a sign that they’re looking for an exit.
This isn’t what you want to hear coming from your boss and it’ll make you feel like your future is also looking bleak.
But if they’re in trouble, or they know the company is in trouble, they might be trying to give you a warning.
13. They Start Taking Time Off
If your boss starts taking time off – especially if this is out of character for them – it’s a sign that they’re either in trouble or they’re about to be.
Good bosses don’t usually take time off unless they’re sure that things are under control, so if they’re suddenly taking a lot of days off it’s because they’re stressed, they’re facing problems, or they’re about to be fired.
14. You Catch Them Applying for Other Jobs
If you catch your boss applying for other jobs, this is a strong sign that they’re either planning to leave or they’ve already been given the axe.
It’s not a good sign for you either, as it means that your boss will be leaving soon and things will naturally shake up a little.
But it’s better to know that they’re looking for other jobs so you can be prepared for when they do leave.
15. You Can Just Tell that Something Isn’t Right
If you can just tell that something isn’t right with your boss, it’s probably because something is bothering them and they might be in a spot of trouble.
You’ll know them and what they’re usually like, and although you might not be able to put a finger on exactly what’s up – trust your gut.
If you think something is wrong, it’s best to ask them directly if they’re okay.
Should You Help Your Boss if They’re in Trouble?
If you think your boss is in trouble and you want to help them, there are a few things you can do to help.
- You could talk to them directly and see if they need help with anything
- You could talk to their superiors and see if there’s anything you can do to help them out
- or, you could just keep an eye on them and step in if you think you can help
It’s a tough situation to navigate, and it really depends on how well you know your boss and what you – and they – are comfortable with you doing.
At the end of the day, they need to keep the lines clear about their role as your manager or boss.
It’s not always the place for someone to step up and ask their boss if they need help – I can’t tell you how they’ll take that.
It’s nice that you care enough to think about what you can do though, even if there is nothing you can do to help them.
Image credits – Photo by Croissant on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.